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shadow ships (spoilers)


Beyond the rim
From what I remember from the episodes, it's telepaths that were hooked up to the shadow vessels, but in the Technomage books, Anna Sheridan is hooked up to a shadow ship. Is it ever mentioned that she's telepathic or can non-telepaths be put in a shadow ship also? /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif
Shadow ships can use any sentient being as a CPU. It was only during S3, when they realized that they're ships were vulnerable to telepaths, that the Shadows began "acquiring" teeps so that the ships could defend themselves against telepathic attack. As far as I know the Shadow ships used "mundane" CPUs for all the wars prior to Sheridan's.

For more on Anna Sheridan and how she ended up in that ship, see Jeanne Cavelos's very good, The Shadow Within, originally published by Dell books several years ago (and long since out of print.) It is due to be republished by Del Rey in December, the first of their reprints of the old Dell titles. Amazon.com and other on-line booksellers are currently taking orders.


I asked for The Shadow Within as a Christmas present. I don't know how I'll be able to wait that long!
That is kind of confusing, isn't it? I also got the impression that telepaths didn't have to attack the shadow ships per say, there mere precense interfered with the CPU of the shadow ships.

Bester didn't look to me like he was actually DOING anything. But the shadow ships responded to his precense. Just his precense.

So how could the shadow ships function with a teep on board? /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

Maybe they just think "happy thoughts" or something. /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
A Shadow ship having a teep CPU just means that being a teep, the CPU is less vulnerable to another teep. Teeps are trained in blocking.

A teep can interfere with the connection between a mundane CPU and the Shadow ship more easily than they can between a teep CPU and the Shadow ship.

I guess the worst case scenerio (from the Army of Light POV) would be a bunch of Psi Cops (P12s) as Shadow ship CPUs.
That makes sense. And since IIRC Talia couldn't block out 2 Psi-cops, a team of Psi-cops would be the most effective defense against these new shadow ships.
Hmm. I'll be moving this thread to Babylon 5 discussion a bit later in the day. It's more B5 and less General, even though it involves the books.
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I also got the impression that telepaths didn't have to attack the shadow ships per say, there mere precense interfered with the CPU of the shadow ships.

Bester didn't look to me like he was actually DOING anything. But the shadow ships responded to his precense. Just his precense.


It isn't really that clear from "Ship of Tears" that Bester's "mere presence" is enough to interfere with the Shadow vessel/CPU link. It is equally possible that the ship "decided" not to attack because damaging the "weapons components" was contrary to its programming. Or it may be that Bester was doing something, even without being aware of it, in response to sensing the Shadow vessel. Talia was able to sense the Shadows without making any concious effort to scan for them, after all. The Vorlon-created teeps may have a built-in ability to sense Shadows or Shadow tech, and even react to it.

Certainly in later incidents involving Shadow ships first Lyta and then alien telepaths must definitely exert themselves to assail the Shadow CPUs.


Bester was searching for the Shadow ship. Searching telepaths may be a passive reception of mind waves or they may work like radar - transmit a strong signal and listen for the response. If Bester was transmitting a strong signal then even a mundane pilot could have noticed him.

Talia was very close to the Shadows before she reacted. This is not surprising, when walking around she would have had her normal block up. What is surprising is that when she had calmed down, Talia did not start asking question about the Shadows. Possibly because the actress left the show 3 episodes later.
Don't forget being in hyperspace greatly boosts a telepaths powers, so Bester would be like a Roman candle out there.

I also suspect that Bester may well have been doing something, but very subtley. He wouldn't want Sheridan to work out everything a telepath was capable of. Bester is playing both sides against each other in a way, and he's also got to watch out for both sides trying to manipulate telepaths. If he struck too obviously against the Shadows, they might withdraw their support from Earth, or get Clarke to railroad ALL telepaths to Z'Ha'Dum for incorporation into Shadow vessels, so while it is in Bester's interests to work against the shadows, he must do it covertly or risk endangering his people. similarly, if Sheridan works out all Besters little secrets too quickly, the Army of light is going to want to sign up as many telepaths as they can get their hands on. That might make the shadows realise there is a leak in the Corps, and trace it back to Bester.
We may presume that if they need, Shadows themselves can remain hidden from telepaths, although this may require some conscious effort on their part (should they be lazy, they might use a minimum of camouflage).

After all, Morden moved quite freely everywhere. Aside from Talia, there were no reports of people collapsing at the sight of his associates... either on Earth, Centauri Prime or elsewhere. Obviously, his associates went unnoticed to telepaths far stronger than Talia.

Hence either Talia had some talent the Shadows were not currently expecting, and therefore not hiding from... or those particular Shadows were really careless, and later improved their ways.


However it seems that Shadow vessels, at least those using a living core, are inherently vulnerable to telepathic detection and jamming. One might speculate that Shadow vessels process commands approximately like this:

1. Vessel relays commands from the Eye to the core.
2. Core uses its remaining intellect to choose actions.
2. Vessel carries out those choices.
3. If the core cannot be heard, vessel goes independent.

I suppose that telepathic jamming might either upset the connection between the Eye and the vessel, or more likely, the vessel and the core. I suppose the state of a jammed Shadow vessel would rapidly alternate between listening to the core and going berserk.

The jamming telepath would have to ensure that some commands from the core do reach the vessel (prevents the vessel from going independent) but not enough to allow the vessel achieve directed manouver or combat.
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or those particular Shadows were really careless, and later improved their ways.

Morden having a Zathras moment:
"I never get the good Shadows. Justin always gets the GOOD Shadows. I always get these trainees. /forums/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif Morden never gets any NICE Shadows..." /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Furthermore, there seems to exist a minor logical flaw in how Shadow vessels are explained to behave, versus how they are depicted to behave.

When jammed, Shadow vessels should never stop, because stopping from forward flight requires a coordinated effort to stop (braking).

If the vessel is supposed to be unable to coordinate its actions, stopping should be very unlikely. Instead it would be likely to passively fly forward, or continue its original activity in noticably errant manner.
Well the stopping depends on their method of propulsion. The Minbari use gravitational inertia engines to move their ships and provide gravity. Shutting one of those engines off in mid flight probably could very well cause the ship to stop. Clearly the shadows are using something more than propelling particles out of the rear of their ship. Effecting space/gravity/fields to provide the propulsion. Definitely looks like they can control inertia at how quickly the shadow ships can change directions. So wouldn't say the loss of control of the engine wouldn't cause it do a complete stop. OH WELL ITS SCIENCE FICTION SUSPEND YOUR DISBLIEF. As much as jms try to keep much of it real world and practical the first ones are supposed to be almost mythical in nature.
Unless of course you mean the control device but the lost of communcation should return the ship to neutral and not the continue command of going forward or what ever. Now of course something like a EF Cruiser you have to tell it to stop for it to come to a rest. We're just have to assume that they logical enough to put in lost of connection to control will revert the ship to neutral and going to a neutral state of inaction.
While possible, it still seems unlikely to have engines (whatever their nature, engines are tools for acceleration) try stopping the ship upon receiving command errors. In my mind, engines would be poorly placed to decide which coordinate system the stop should be relative to.

See, if you are going to stop, you must first decide which coordinate system or object your "stop" will relate to. Choices would be wide. Easily performable choices would be:

1. Relative to your own movement. Stop accelerating in any manner.

2. Relative to position of other vessels. But which vessels? If those are enemy vessels, wouldn't this make you a sitting duck?

3. Never stop when attacked. Instead, attack possible sources of jamming while performing evasive manouvers.

From my point of view, logical behaviour for a Shadow vessel, depending on the balance of control between the ship and its core... would be something between options 1 and 3. Flying by inertia while trying (but probably failing) to counterattack.
I have only one thought to offer: just because these CPU's were disabled, who is to say they were completely immobilized? Maybe instinctively they could still stop. But couldn't focus or aim weapons, etc.
You are thinking of jamming in the traditional mechanical sense, but that might not necessarily apply. When a telepath blocks a telepath, it can be done in a way that causes pain, and the subject to recoil (Lyta v Bester in Epiphanies). Now I know Lyta at this point is rock hard on a psi level, but as a point of contrast, Shadow ships without telepaths are effectively mundanes, easier for a Telepath to do a mind numbing block with physical side effects.

It might be the equivalent of a punch in the face, whereas you would recoil from the impact, a Shadow ship might be affected similarly.

What I am saying is you are assuming the braking is caused by the telepath actions. It is entirely possible, the braking is caused by the Shadow ships initial response to being attacked in the brain. I don't think teep jamming, is merely the blockage of signals within the vessels command infrastructure, I think jamming is really just a laymans term for a more involved attack.
Well one thing to say is Jms or consultants knew about the physics of space, with in reason and kept true to it. Remember like the excalibur in call to arms continued to move forward after fireing its main weapon and going offline. Though their other cases such as the continious uncontroled spin of "Heffers" star fury in hyper space in season 1 or 2 after encontering a shadow ship. The rotateing ships for gravity as another example and think i heard something about earth force ships not accelerateing as fast as Centari and Minbari ships. So think Jms/consultants knew that and Intetionaly had the shadows stop in the tracks.
Remember that its human beings as direct interfaces to the ship. As in the Techomage triology the ship is a extension of the body and the mind is used to telling the legs to move forward and we don't neccisaryly tell it to start breaking we just stop sending the message to go forward. So if you cut the message a human being wouldn't continue forward. So think to reduce the learning curve the shadows ships basicly dosen't impede on the instinct of the core. And dosen't bound the core with the thinking that i need to stop in a meter from what ever speed i need to start stoping at some point before. And the propulsion for this must be gravity/inertia control or some other field. Oh well looking for a honest internet thing on it as far as i can tell but couldn't find any thing on such matter. But the ship moves by inducing momentum/inertia on the ship and when the engine is off its simply not moving. So it would have instanious velocity and also be also controling the gravity of the ship and not cause the occupants to suffer the effects of momentum. Basicly saying the propulsion of the ship manipulates the effect that you expecting and nulling it.

Btw another example is when the shadows are hit by beam weapons they stop in their tracks remember few scenes with a white star hiting a shadow ship in movement and just seems to stop and aganize in pain in place. While don't see many other ship that can take the sustained beam they seem to continue moving if i remember correctly, probably a good example is to look at the Black Omega's with the shadow skin but more earth force propulsion. Think they kept moving after a sustained beam.
Another possible explanation is that shadow ships have a failsafe system that activates the braking system should it be blinded or interfered with by disruptions to its control network. The shadow ships (when moving openly) engage in multiple numbers. Having a blind/mad uncontrollable ship zooming about, or even drifting would affect the offensive operation, you might have zombid shadow ships straying into one anothers path. The Shadows once they engage in combat are highly logical, they would not want this. If a ship had been disabled, they'd probably want to leave it parked until they could pick it up after the fight. so it's possible they have a mechanism in the ship that stops them from moving without command. While the CPU struggles to reclaim control over it's systems, it might be perceivable outside as the jerky movements of a ship trying to overcome it's own failsafe program, by jerking forwards a bit.
We are shown Shadow ships accelerating. We are shown Shadow ships decelerating, instead of instantly stopping. We are shown them doing that in conditions <font color="yellow">where it would have benefited them to alter speed instantly ("Messages from Earth", to quickly destroy the White Star, without experiencing any trouble with Jupiter's gravity).</font color>

For some reason, they never do that. I assume that they cannot do that. After all, other First Ones accelerate and decelerate too. Vorlons do it. Sigma walkers do it. Even Lorien accelerates before finally disappearing at Coriana.

Hence I conculde that Shadows too are subject to inertia. Neither they individually nor ships based on their technology... neither can stop instantly. They cannot teleport. They have many abilities but for this, I assume they would need more research.

Their engines are probably based on creating artificial gravity. This means that while engines pull the ship, they pull everything inside it equally (no acceleration felt).

However, despite acceleration not being perceivable inside the ship, it does occur. Instead of pushing out matter (Earth ships) these vessels could possibly accelerate by creating a depression (mass) in space before them.

The ship and its contents would be pulled by this mass, much like a falling apple is pulled by Earth. We all agree that a falling apple does accelerate, instead of gaining speed instantly. Similarly it seems that under all conditions of normal flight, Shadow vessels accelerate too.

Overcoming inertia requires energy. The energy provided by ships is not infinite. They cannot overcome their inertia instantly. To overcome it, they need to apply a sufficient amount of energy, which takes time.


Now, on a single special occasion (being jammed or coming under fire) Shadow ships are depicted ignoring all physical laws. What they cannot perform for their own benefit in normal combat (why?) they are shown performing (for enemy benefit) under attack.

A ship under attack, especially one close to destruction, should be even more incapable of stopping than a "healthy" ship. Why? Because its power output would be diminished, its components malfunctioning. It could not mobilize the power needed to stop.

Hence, I cannot accept that any external jammer (no matter which component is being jammed) could achieve a manouver which the ship cannot achieve on its own, during willful and controlled flight, even if achieving that would offer huge benefit.

This is the case, from my point of view. Luckily with this story, I can suspend disbelief -- because the story is interesting, and its other parts quite realistic.

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